Archive for the ‘cataloging’ Category

Friday, April 21st, 2017

Six New Sources: Amazon India, Italy, Brazil, Spain, Mexico, and China

We’re pleased to announce the addition of six new Amazon sites to LibraryThing’s cataloging sources. They are:

This is big news, because although we’ve had academic library sources for these countries and languages, Amazon has far more books for most readers, and is always faster.

Initially the sources are available for books only. Once we see everything going smoothly, we’ll add “music” and “movies” sources for them too.

To use them, go to Add Books, look under “Search where?” on the left-hand side of the page, and click “Add from 1077 sources.”

If you run into any issues, or have other feedback or questions, post them on Talk.

LibraryThing in Not-English?

Many members don’t know, but LibraryThing is available in more than a dozen languages, including ones for the new sources:

All translations have been done by members—an amazing amount of love and effort. Other sites include French, Germany, and our best-maintained translation, Catalan. See all of them.

Labels: cataloging, new features

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Music and movie cataloging (but we’re still a book site)

Short version: LibraryThing is and will remain a book site. But we never stopped people from cataloging other media, like movies and music. We’re now making it much easier to do. Check it out and add your non-book library at https://www.librarything.com/addbooks.

Medium version: LibraryThing is a book site, and will remain so. But many members, especially our small libraries, have always cataloged other media, such as movies and music. We allowed it, but didn’t support it well at all. In particular, we disabled non-book searching on Amazon, allowing it only on our library sources.

A few months ago we introduced a robust concept of media format. We’ve now opened up cataloging other media on the Amazon sources, which are far easier and better for the purpose.

Check it out at https://www.librarything.com/addbooks

trash_moviesmusic

Long version:

Why Are We Doing This? Adding other media has been planned for years. The main driver has been small libraries—churches, community centers, small museums, etc.—a major constituent of LibraryThing’s success. Although small libraries mostly collect books, they don’t limit themselves to books any more than public and academic libraries do. Our failings in the area really hurt us.

This change means that LibraryThing is now a “complete” cataloging system. This lets us reach small libraries as we never could before—something we plan to do even more strongly when TinyCat debuts.

We are also conscious that many “regular” members wanted to catalog their non-book libraries. I want to, anyway, and I know I’m not alone.

Worried? We are conscious of some members’ worries, for example that LibraryThing is “turning into” a movie site. These are valid concerns. Here’s how we responded and will respond:

Screenshot 2015-09-14 14.16.30
Movies have been on LibraryThing for a long time.
  • LibraryThing is a site for book lovers and readers. This isn’t going to change.
  • Books get me and the rest of the team up in the morning. That isn’t going to change.
  • LibraryThing has had movies and music since the beginning—hundreds of thousands are already cataloged. Directors and composers have had author pages since the beginning. The recommendations system has recommended movies and music since the beginning. If movies “pollute” LibraryThing, it’s been polluted for a long time.
  • Now, however, we know what’s a book, a movie, and so forth. Knowing means we can adapt the site’s features to deal with that. As a start, by popular request, we’ve changed our site search to “facet” by format. Other accomodations, like a way to refuse all non-book recommendations, can certainly be considered.
  • We don’t expect a crushing influx of non-book media or members. But if LibraryThing appeals to new people who want to catalog all their media, that isn’t a bad thing.

New Features. The following features have been added, or changed, in order of importance.

  • Add Books sources now include music, movies and combined sources for all the Amazon national sites (e.g., “Amazon.com books, music and movies”).
  • To build awareness, we’ve added one “Amazon books, music and movies” source to all members’ sources. If you don’t want it, the new Add Books sources system makes it easy to delete. There are also sources for just movies and just music.
  • Amazon-added movies and music have covers, based on the ASIN, not the ISBN. This change also gives LibraryThing ebook covers.
  • We’ve added media-based faceting in site search.
  • You can search both Amazon and Overcat by UPC.

Cataloging Non-Books Media. Movies and music aren’t books, but libraries catalog them with some of the same basic structure and concepts. Movies and music have titles, publication dates, subjects, Dewey classifications, etc. “Authors” is more complex. Library records generally mix directors, actors, producers and screenwriters into one set of contributors, with their roles not always marked. Amazon records are better here, clearly delineating the various roles. But they don’t have the name-control libraries have.

We’ve solved this as follows:

  • When possible, movies get director as their main author. This is always possible with Amazon records, but not with library records.
  • We’ve improved how we handle author names from Amazon, leveraging Amazon data against what we know from tens of millions of library records. So, for example, we’re handing “The Beatles” as “The Beatles” not “Beatles, The.” This change improves Amazon cataloging generally.
  • Where listed, actors, producers, musicians and so forth get secondary author status and roles. This means that actors have LibraryThing author pages. (But they had them before, as noted above. If this proves a problem, we can mark them somehow as a site-wide feature.)
  • We’ve improved media format detection of MARC records within Overcat, especially for odd MARC formats, like DANMARC (a specialized MARC format used in—you guessed it—Denmark).

Let Us Know. Let us know what you think on Talk.

Labels: cataloging, new feature, new features

Friday, September 11th, 2015

Edit and reorder sources in Add Books

Good news: We’ve improved the sources system within Add Books a lot.

Bad news: We had to transition to an entirely new sources system. Most members kept their sources, but some members and some sources couldn’t go into the new system easily. If you lost sources, you may need to choose them again. Fortunately, the new system’s a lot better at that.

You can find the new options on Add Books:
searchwhere

Everything now happens in a light box. The “Your Sources” tab allows you to reorder and delete sources.
yoursources

You can browse and choose sources, divided into “Featured” and “All Sources” on the other two tabs.
featured

As you’ll notice, a fair number of our sources are currently down. We’re working to get as many up again as possible, and add new ones. If you’d like to help and know something about Z39.50 connections, you’ll find we give our current connection details when you click the yellow warning marker.

You’ll also see other, very significant new stuff. But that’s a matter for another blog post!

Three cheers to our developer Ammar for the add-books changes!

Labels: cataloging, new features

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

New Feature: MARC Import

This is not a bobcat

MARC is the library standard for bibliographic records. We’ve always parsed MARC records behind the scenes, when members searched one of our 700 library sources, or our Overcat collection. A few years ago, we introduced the ability export your LibraryThing collections as MARC records, even if your records didn’t start out in MARC.

Now, we’re adding the last piece: MARC importing, for all the small but professionally-cataloged libraries that use LibraryThing.

Try it Out. Check it out on Import or directly to MARC Import.

How it works. To use MARC import, you’ll need to have your library data in a .marc file format. Depending on how large a file you’ve got, the import process may take a few minutes. The good news is, you’ll receive a notification from LibraryThing once it’s ready. From there, you’ll be able to review your import options—just like you would with any other import—and select the collections, tags, etc. you’d like to apply to the items you’re importing.

What is MARC? MARC stands for Machine-Readable Cataloging. It represents a set of digital formats for describing items held by libraries: books, maps, CDs/DVDs, etc. You name it, if it’s in a library, MARC can handle it. Libraries the world over use MARC to standardize their item records in such a way that information about different types of items can all be fed into (and retrieved from) cataloging systems uniformly.

MARC fields are denoted by numerical tags, that indicate what type of information is contained in that field. For example, the title of a given work is always in field 245.

Don’t Upload The New York Public Library! This is for small—or, better the tiny—libraries that use MARC records and LibraryThing. Uploads are capped at 10,000 records total, so don’t try to upload 100,000 records. “Regular” libraries, big and small, should check out LibraryThing for Libraries, a remarkable suite of catalog enhancements.

Questions? Comments? Let us know what you think on Talk.

Labels: cataloging, new features, small libraries

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Harvard University’s 12 million records now in LibraryThing

Short version. Our “Overcat” search now includes 12.3 million records from Harvard University!

Long version. On April 24 the Harvard Library announced that more than 12 million MARC records from across its 73 libraries would be made available under the library’s Open Metadata policy and a Creative Commons 0 public domain license. The announcement stunned the library world, because Harvard went against the wishes of the shared-cataloging company OCLC, who have long sought to prevent libraries from releasing records in this way. (For background on OCLC’s efforts see past blog posts.)

It took a while to process, but we’ve finally completed adding all 12.3 million MARC records (3.1GB of bibliographic goodness!) to LibraryThing. They’ve gone into OverCat, our giant index of library records from around the world—now numbering more than 51 million records! As a result, when searching OverCat under “Add books,” you’ll now see results “from Harvard OpenMetadata.”

This release (“big data for books,” as David Weinberger calls it) is, to put it mildly, a Very Big Deal. Harvard’s collections are both deep and broad, covering a wide variety of languages, fields, and formats. The addition of these 12 million records to OverCat has significantly improved our capacity for the cataloging of scholarly and rare books, and greatly enhanced our coverage generally.

Kudos to Harvard for making this metadata available, and we hope that other libraries will follow suit.

For more on the metadata release, see Quentin Hardy’s New York Times blog post, the Dataset description, or the Open Metadata FAQ. And happy cataloging!

Come discuss here.


Harvard requests and we’re happy to add: The “Harvard University Open Metadata” records in OverCat contain information from the Harvard Library Bibliographic Dataset, which is provided by the Harvard Library under its Bibliographic Dataset Use Terms and includes data made available by, among others, OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc. and the Library of Congress.

Labels: cataloging, open data

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Occupy Libraries!

It’s been fascinating to watch the rise of libraries at the various Occupy sites around the world, particularly the impressively-large collection at Occupy Wall Street known as the People’s Library. We reached out and suggested a LibraryThing account for the collection, and the volunteer librarians in Zucotti Park responded enthusiastically.

The OWSLibrary catalog now includes more than 3,300 titles, and it’s quite a rich and varied collection (check out the tag mirror). We’ve got a Talk thread where members are posting the books they share with the library; as of this morning, I share 100 titles with them, everything from E.O. Wilson to Annie Dillard to Strunk & White. If you’re signed into LibraryThing, you can see what you share with the OWS Library here.

The OWSLibrary folks also have an active blog, Twitter, and Flickr presence (they’ve even got library stamps!). Many authors have visited to speak, lend support, and sign books, and there’s now even an Occupy Wall Street Poetry Anthology.

More than 1,300 writers have signed the Occupy Writers petition in support of the Occupy movement, including Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, Junot Díaz and more.

You can read some good coverage of the Occupy library movement in American Libraries, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and the Wall Street Journal.

On Friday, local librarian JustinTheLibrarian, Tim and I went downtown on our lunch break and cataloged the Occupy Maine library, a small collection housed at Portland’s Spartan Grill restaurant (which also serves a very tasty gyro).

Occupy Sacramento’s library is also up on LibraryThing, and we’ve been in touch with various other Occupy libraries; if your city’s library joins up, we’d love to know about it!

While you may agree or disagree with the Occupy movement as a whole, we think what they’re doing with books and libraries is simply awesome. And we’re very happy to be a part of it.

Labels: cataloging, flash mob, flash-mob cataloging, libraries

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

LibraryThing gets work-to-work relationships!

Today we’ve launched some new ways to display relationships between works.

The concept covers works that contain other works, or are contained by them. It also covers retellings, abridgments, parodies, commentaries on and so forth.

Thus, LibraryThing members will be able to add relationships that show:

A core concept here is that this is only for work-level relationships. Therefore, we are not doing “translation of,” “facsimile edition of,” etc. Members are asked to connect only existing works, not make up new, so-far uncataloged works.

Come discuss rules, concepts and ideas in the Talk topic.

We’ve got a lot more coming that builds and expands on these capabilities, so stay tuned!

Many thanks to the members of Board for Extreme Thing Advances group, who’ve been helping us develop and refine this feature. They have already added some 4,500 contains/contained-in relationships across LibraryThing.

Labels: cataloging, work pages, works

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Flash-Mob Cataloging: NCSU & Arts Together

A hearty gang of 21 volunteer catalogers from the Metadata & Cataloging Department at North Carolina State University Libraries helped out over two weekends in January at the Arts Together community school (LT Profile page) in Raleigh, adding their preschool book collection to LibraryThing.

The catalogers added the school’s monthly curricular themes as collections in the catalog (February, for example, is “The Animal Kingdom/Feelings“) and supplemented those with a series of tags. Coordinator Erin Stalberg reports that her favorite tag is “Community Helpers” – if you check out the titles so tagged, you’ll soon see why!).

See more photos from the flash-mob here.

Over the two weekends, the flash-mob teams added a total of 1,145 books – well done! We were happy to send a box of stickers and t-shirts to the volunteers, and always encourage similar projects! If you’re interested in forming a flash mob for a library near you, check out Tim’s blog post, the How To Flash-Mob with LibraryThing wiki and the Flash Mob Cataloging Talk group. If your organization could use the help of a flash-mob, please get in touch with me and I’ll be happy to help coordinate it!

Labels: cataloging, flash mob, flash-mob cataloging, NCSU

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

Introducing the “Melvil Decimal System”

I’ve just pushed a nifty feature for browsing the “Melvil Decimal System” (MDS).

What is MDS? MDS is the Dewey Decimal System, Melvil Dewey’s innovative classification system, as it has been applied to books in LibraryThing members’ books. The wording comes from out-of-copyright sources.

The browse system is nifty. It was to some degree inspired by the elegant user interface to Tom Hickey’s OCLC DeweyBrowser. It is also interesting to see how the classification stacks up against LibraryThing tags. Here are some examples:

As usual, the system is not complete. It does not yet show you how your books stack up against the system. That is coming.

Why MDS? Although he invented his system in 1876, and has been dead for 79 years, Dewey lives on. The library conglomerate OCLC continues to produce new editions, which are copyrighted. And the terms “Dewey,” “Dewey Decimal,” “DDC” and so forth are registered trademarks of OCLC. In the past OCLC has been touchy about Dewey. They once sued the Library Hotel for putting books in rooms according to the rooms’ Dewey number. So we aren’t taking any chances.

Although OCLC updates the Dewey Decimal System, they cannot own the numbers themselves, which are assigned by librarians around the world. Nor can they own the system as it existed in 1922—for that edition is out of copyright.

Make it stop!

Help us out! Knowing the numbers is one thing, but the words bring them alive. Every number has a space for wording, both original (1922) and modern. Members are invited to help fill it out, at least for the top tiers. The original wording should come from Dewey’s 1922 edition, with one difference. Dewey was a spelling-reform nut, and all the later editions of his work are in his semi-phonetic spelling system. This spelling is unbearable, so convert it to standard spelling.

For the “modern” wording, you may modernize both terminology and sentiment. Dewey used “sociology” in the sense of “Social science” and his religion section refers to “Mohammedanism” and “Minor Christian sects.” Those can all be improved. But improvements should reflect only modernity, not the wording of in-copyright editions of the Dewey Decimal System.*

As with other Common Knowledge sections, MDS can also be translated. Indeed, one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a while was a user translating the system into Swedish just a few minutes after launch. There is no current Swedish translation of the Dewey Decimal System.

Lastly, I got into this to help Fleela, Zoe and the other members of the Dewey Decimal Challenge group, “Read a book from every Dewey Decimal category.” Fun idea. You should try it.

What’s missing The feature is, as usual, intentionally half-done. Here are some contemplated features.

  • Connection to YOUR library
  • Links from your catalog, other pages
  • The Library of Congress System

Come talk about it on LibraryThing Talk.


* In many cases, OCLC’s changes haven’t trickled down to the libraries that use the system. DDC 288, formerly for Unitarianism**, is now blank. But both OCLC’s DeweyBrowser and LibraryThing’s MDS browser show books there—a Channing fest to be sure.
** That Unitarianism gets as much space as Catholicism, Judaism and Islam speaks to Dewey’s western Massachusetts world-view.

Dewey, Dewey Decimal, Dewey Decimal Classification, DDC and OCLC are registered trademarks of OCLC. Read more about OCLC and the DDC on their website. LibraryThing is not affiliated with OCLC, but we have the same hatter.

Labels: cataloging, classification, new feature, new features

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Announcing OverCat

We have added a new source to every member’s Add Books page: OverCat, LibraryThing’s new index of 32 million library records, assembled from libraries around the world, and the first step in a major upgrade of LibraryThing’s cataloging functions.

Sources. OverCat was assembled from over 700 sources. The core consists of full datasets from the Library of Congress, Washington State, Boston College, Oregon State, and Talis Base (a collection of UK libraries).* To this we’ve added records from the hundreds of thousands of books members have searched for and added from the 690 libraries LibraryThing connects to.

The end result is arguably the second-largest searchable database of library records in existence, after OCLC.**

How to use it. To use OverCat, go to your Add books page. OverCat has been added to everyone’s source list. (It can be removed but not yet reordered.)

High-quality results. To make it easier to find the edition you need, OverCat combines results into edition-level clusters, so you get one result per edition (rather than pages and pages of the same edition of the same book from different libraries).  By default, it will give you what it guesses the best available record is for that edition, but you can select from any one of the alternate records if you want to.

OverCat isn’t everything. The Library of Congress data dump is not current–although it’s been supplemented with user searches. Our relevancy ranking isn’t as good as Amazon’s. (We could use your feedback to make it better.) But most users will find it a useful source, and many will find it the best one.

The Big Issue. OverCat is available to LibraryThing members in the course of normal site activity—cataloging small collections of books.*** It will not be available for external access, including by libraries. It is not a back door to OCLC data.

This will come as a disappointment to many, including us. We have long argued for library-data openness and against OCLC’s bid to privatize and monopolize library data. But we also made it clear to the libraries we search that their data will not be made available outside of the context of personal cataloging without their permission. This will not change, now or in the future.

We would love to open OverCat up, to make it OpenLibrary as we originally hoped it would be it, or like Amazon Web Services, but with free, high quality data. We believe data openness is critical to the survival of libraries in our increasingly free and open world. But we depend upon open search portals, and will never open up a library’s data against its wishes. Some of these libraries may want to open up their data, but some clearly do not, and almost everyone is afraid of OCLC and its new data policy.*** Either way, we will abide by libraries’ wishes.

For the 690 libraries we search little has changed. We will still send member searches to your systems, but fewer—reducing your load—and the requests may not come at the time of searching. As before, found records will be stored on LibraryThing systems, but can now be used by more than one user and will appear in OverCat searches. Bulk or non-personal access will not be possible.

Thanks. OverCat has been a long-term project of Casey Durfee. The Board for Extreme Thing Advances helped us nail down bugs and decide on the name.

The future. LibraryThing’s greatest strength is its cataloging, but we don’t want to rest on that. There are a lot of improvements we can do now that we have a flexible, scaleable structure and repository for our data. OverCat is the first step here.

Come talk about your suggestions, and OverCat generally, on Talk here.


*Some OpenLibrary data was omitted for being mostly duplicative or of insufficient quality.

**For background on the OCLC issue, see here. We will also honor requests to remove libraries’ data from OverCat, excepting those libraries (like the LC), whose records are public by both law and public dumps.

There are larger collections. Harvard, for example, is said to have contributed 81 million records to OCLC, but most can’t have been book records, as the volume-count of Harvard is less than that of the Library of Congress, which we include.

We could make part of the data free, and part closed. But since the free data comes from OpenLibrary it would be duplicative of their efforts. We may explore this avenue in the future, as our primary complaint against OpenLibrary is the lack of exportable library-data formats.

***Exports of your library are included, obviously, but no larger dumps. “Personal” includes some small institutions, like church libraries, clubs and so forth.

Labels: cataloging, new features